PUSHED TO FAR? –
Aug. 12, 2022 – Houle saw a sports psychologist as a high school sophomore after massive success in gymnastics, including a national championship. After competing for Ohio State, Houle got his doctorate in the discipline that helped him at a young age. Since 2019, he has led the sports psychology department for what is regularly the richest athletic department in the country.
“[The crisis is] really shedding a light on what has existed, in one way, for hundreds of years,” Houle said. “Because there is so much light on athletes now more than ever, the level of exposure has never been seen like this. One person [on social media] could have 15 people make horrible comments about them in 30 seconds. It used to be, they’d have to send a letter.” Former Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski died by suicide in 2018. He was described by teammates and coaches as an outgoing leader. One day, he wasn’t there, having taken his life. His parents have become nationwide crusaders for suicide awareness, forming the Hilinski’s Hope Foundation. “It’s a struggle without him,” Kym Hilinski said. “I cry every day. I’m going to do that no matter what. I’d rather help people through my pain.”
Kim and her husband, Mark, have channeled their grief with incredible grace and outreach. They will visit 17 states in the next three months giving a series of on-campus “Tyler Talks.” Inevitably, at each talk, at least one athlete will come up to Mark and say, “You saved my life,” he shared.
“We try to get across to the student-athlete; it’s a complex issue,” Mark added. “Somehow, because it’s your mind, kids have this feeling that everything that is related to depression, anxiety, bipolar is based on how you were brought up. We want them to understand it can be related to brain chemistry. Nobody asked to get [a disease].”